Tidbits

Card image See the World with SLC

See the World with SLC

What’s better than studying at SLC? Studying at SLC from the vantage point of a foreign country. This year, undergraduates have several new study abroad options that make us wish we were in college again. (We’re contemplating a Rodney Dangerfield/Back to School type scenario, but with more luggage.) Students can spend spring semester in Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe as part of SLC’s new program on Human Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, spearheaded by Kim Ferguson (psychology), who grew up in Malawi. The program focuses on the effects of inequality, and participants will study psychology and history and do fieldwork at community organizations.

In the new semester-long program in Lima, Peru, Spanishspeaking students can explore 5,000 years of Peruvian history and development. Students live with host families and study at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Perú, one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in Latin America.

Over the summer, Cameron Afzal (religion) took a class of students to Turkey and Greece for “The Geography of Faith: Paul and the Emergence of Christianity in the Aegean.” The class explored the social world of ancient Greece, walking in the footsteps of Saint Paul and studying his epistles in the cities where he preached.

Between these new programs and SLC’s ongoing presence in Cuba, England, France, Germany, and Argentina, students have plenty of good reasons to apply for that passport.

Card image Master of Puppets

Master of Puppets

In the Japanese Kuruma Ningyo tradition, puppeteers sit on wheeled carts, manipulating 4-foot-tall puppets that appear to walk directly on the stage. Koryu Nishikawa V (left)—declared an “Intangible Cultural Treasure” by the Japanese government for his work in this ancient form—collaborated with Tom Lee (theatre) to create The Shank’s Mare, an original production performed at SLC in April. Before Nishikawa arrived, the student performers taped their rehearsals and sent YouTube videos for him to critique from Japan.

Yonkers Intensified

Speaking of place-based learning experiences, this fall students can participate in the Intensive Semester in Yonkers, organized by the Office of Community Partnerships. As the third largest city in New York, Yonkers is an ideal place to study the social, environmental, and economic issues facing urban America. Students take three interconnected courses—in journalism, psychology, and politics—all focusing on inequality and opportunity in Yonkers. They also delve into the life of the community through fieldwork, which is an integral component of the program.

Card image The New Dean

The New Dean

Judith Babbitts, our new dean of graduate and professional studies, started work in July. She comes to Sarah Lawrence from Johns Hopkins University, where she was vice dean for advanced academic programs in the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. She has extensive experience with curricular development in graduate education and special programs, enrollment management, marketing and strategic planning, and international education. And she’s an alumna, too: she earned a master’s degree from the graduate program in women’s history in 1976, and also holds a PhD from Yale University and a BA from Rutgers University. Welcome, Judith! 

Card image Better than Christmas

Better than Christmas

When you need a gift to mark a special occasion, sometimes a marshmallow launcher is the only thing that will do.

Or a fly swatter, perhaps. Maybe a portrait of a mysterious woman? All of these items have been exchanged with much pomp at the annual passdown dinner for resident advisers.

New resident advisers find out their room assignments at the May event. Then the departing RAs present their successors with a special (okay, “special”) gift to welcome them to their new quarters. The marshmallow launcher, for example, was exchanged between denizens of the second floor of Dudley Lawrence, who might need a way to quiet late-night roisterers on the lawn.

Carolyn O’Laughlin, director of residence life, instituted the pass- down dinner in 2009 as a way to ease the anxieties of new resident advisers. “The idea is to pass down something that gets a laugh, but also makes a meaningful connection,” she says. 

Card image Weird Eel

Weird Eel

Every spring tiny, translucent eels swim up the Hudson River, looking for a home. This year some of them took a rest stop at the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak (CURB), the College’s new field station and environmental education center in Yonkers, where SLC students can conduct research in environmental science. Students helped catch, count, and release the eels as part of a wider citizen science effort to monitor the eel population.

Why does it matter how many baby eels are swimming up the Hud- son? Glass eels are the juvenile form of the American Eel, a species that SLC’s new ecologist Michelle Hersh (biology) calls “biologically bizarre.” Its complicated life cycle—which involves migrating from the Sargasso Sea to East Coast rivers and back again, as well as changing colors multiple times as it grows—has historically made it difficult to track. CURB’s data, along with that gath- ered by other volunteers all along the river, will be used by the New 

York Department of Environmental Conservation to keep track of the eel population over time. That’s an important first step toward further conservation efforts.

How do you count an eel that’s clear and only 1.5 inches long? The eels were detained in a fyke net—a bag-shaped fish trap with a strainer of sorts to keep the bigger fish out—staked in the marsh. Three times a week, CURB Education and Outreach Coordinator Jason Muller and student researchers would wade into the marsh at low tide and dump the eels into a tub. Then they scooped up the wriggly fish with a small net, counted them one by one, and tossed them back into the water. From March through May, the team counted almost 700 eels.

One of Hersh’s students, who volunteered at CURB, has already done a conference project on eel biology, and many more opportunities for projects will emerge from this hands-on research, Hersh says. 

Dancing in the Dark

Dancing for an extended period of time can change one’s reality, says Emily Devine (dance). Twenty years ago, she made a circle of cherry blossoms on Andrews Lawn and invited students to dance “until the birds sing,” as a way of closing the school year and saying farewell to the graduating seniors. “It was beautiful,” she remembers. “There was a full moon, and we watched the moon and the constellations cross the sky.”

Dance All Night has happened every year since, starting at 10 p.m. on the night after seniors’ conference work is due. Participants mark the opening and closing of the ritual together—walking around the inner border, observing a mo- ment of stillness—but otherwise, there are no rules. The dance is all improvised, and participants come and go. Sometimes there’s music, sometimes not. “The only time I had to answer to security was one year when we had lots of people drum- ming really loudly at about three o’clock in the morning,” Devine says.

Devine, who retired this spring after 26 years at the College, stepped into the circle of blossoms for the final time on May 10. She was joined by 40 alumni from the dance program who had traveled from all over the country—one even came from Mexico—to wish her well. Students old and new, dancing together, celebrating a beloved teacher under the night sky: a mov- ing tribute, in more ways than one. 

Card image Re-envisioning Pakistan

Re-envisioning Pakistan

Think of Pakistan, and you probably think of religious fundamentalism and violence, since that’s what the media regularly spotlights. That violence is real, says Jamee Moudud (economics), but so is poverty, marginalization of the general population, and other human rights issues—and the fact that progressive Pakistani groups are working to create a more democratic and inclusive society.

On April 4 and 5, Sarah Lawrence tackled the complexities of Pakistan’s history and current challenges, hosting an international conference called “Re-envisioning Pakistan: The Political Economy of Social Transformation.” The conference was organized by Moudud and Shahnaz Rouse (sociology)—both born in Pakistan—who wanted to move beyond sensationalist headlines and simplistic understanding of the country. Participants included scholars, policy analysts, journalists, and activists from Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the US.

“Hopefully the conference opened people up to another method of looking at the world,” Moudud says. The event was sponsored in part by the Donald C. Samuel Fund for Economics and Politics. 

Card image Hey Mr. (and Ms.) DJ

Hey Mr. (and Ms.) DJ

WSLC, the student-run radio station, has gone digital. In the fall of 2013, the station moved from the basement of Robinson, its home since 1945, to the second floor of Bates. The new space better accommodates their new digital equipment, and puts them in the thick of other student clubs and groups. Tune in online to listen to the full schedule of DJs, who are enthusiastically dedicated to “providing listeners with tons of new music, hot on-campus news, and the best college experience EVER!”

Listen at tinyurl.com/radioSLC